In a shift from its Unix business and its Linux litigation, SCO is moving into supplying mobile device applications.
SCO, recently best known for its Linux litigation rather than its Unix operating systems, announced that it was releasing an advanced networking platform to provide feature-rich consumer and business digital services for smart phones and other intelligent mobile devices.
The SCO Group Inc.s Me Inc. digital services platform is being unveiled this week at the DEMO conference in Huntington Beach, Calif.the technology industrys event for the unveiling of promising new products and services.
SCO PR director Blake Stowell explained that Me Inc. provides a way for smart handheld devices users to be more productive and effective.
The first version will work with the Palm Treo, but in the near future SCO plans to make Me Inc. available to users of other popular handheld devices such as the RIM BlackBerry, and PDAs and phones that run Microsoft Windows Mobile and the Symbian OS.
Me Inc. is made up of several parts. It is first an edge processor that handles incoming requests from the mobile device. This processor then authenticates the user.
Once authorized, the users request is forwarded to a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) server. The J2EE server, in turn, runs the appropriate application for the client request.
The J2EE server can run on either SCO OpenServer, UnixWare or Microsoft Windows.
This applications result is then forwarded to the device via SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and HTTP.
Once there, the data is rendered on-screen by the mobile devices Web browser interface.
Thus, unlike other wireless middleware, such as J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) or Qualcomms BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless), minimal processing actually happens on the device. The bulk of the heavy processor lifting is on the J2EE server.
Still other approaches use EAI (e-business and application integration). In these, all the application runs on the server and the middleware, if there is any, is only used as a transport protocol.
Oracle, for example, in its Server 9i application server provides BREW as such an option.
What SCO has done is to take the EAI approach and put the authentication, authorization and workflow management on the MEP (Me Inc. Edge Processor).
The goal is to provide a transparent device that can connect server-based applications with mobile devices without putting additional burden on the existing corporate infrastructure.
The Lindon, Utah-based company believes that there is a growing market for the services that MEP can enable.
According to IDC, smart phones will make up approximately 85 percent of all intelligent mobile device shipments by the year 2007.
At the same time, research from The Radicati Group has reported that the worldwide mobile workforce will grow from 17 percent of corporate professionals in 2004 to 89 percent in 2008.
"Weve successfully used Me Inc. internally during the past year to improve the way we work as a company, and weve anxiously anticipated the time when we would deliver it to the marketplace. Were pleased with the early customer acceptance of Me Inc. and look forward to making it broadly available in the coming weeks," said Darl McBride, SCOs CEO.
Click here to read more about SCOs financial woes.
SCO also announced that Me Inc. will initially provide a number of digital service components that can be used individually or integrated into custom mobile applications and services.
These include Shout, which enables users to forward voice or text communications to individuals or groups and Action, a mobile device-based project manager.
Other applications can, of course, be built to make use of the platform.
Beta customers have been favorably impressed.
Musco Food Corporation, an Italian food distributor based in Maspeth, N.Y., was looking for a more reliable way for its field sales representatives to enter and process orders while on-site with customers.
In partnership with ASK Technologies Inc., an SCO reseller, SCO and ASK were able to develop and provision a Me Inc. solution for Musco in less than 12 business hours.
"SCO has provided a smart phone-based transactional order entry system for Musco that gives field reps instant access to inventory, pricing and product promotions which allows them to satisfy more customers per day then ever before," said Stephen Pirolli, ASKs principal.
SCO will sell Me Inc. digital services through qualified channel resellers and will also make the services available for download from SCO
beginning in October.
Me Inc. digital services will be sold on a subscription basis, and pricing will be announced as the product gets closer to shipping.
The company is also interested in talking with ILEC (incumbent local exchange carriers), CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers) and other telecomm businesses that might be interested in licensing Me Inc. to provide remote services for their own customers.
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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.